Davenport, Iowa (CNN) – Mitt Romney spoke Monday with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Administration and the National Weather Service as Hurricane Sandy slammed into the U.S. East Coast.
Romney joined the representatives from the agencies, as well as officials from the Department of Homeland Security, on a 20-minute phone call at 4 p.m. ET while the GOP nominee was in Davenport, Iowa for an event, according to campaign spokesman Kevin Madden.
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The presidential candidate received updates on the progress of the Category 1 hurricane, as well as the status of federal, state and local disaster relief efforts, Madden said. Romney was further briefed on the potential effects to states and communities in the storm's immediate aftermath.
Romney's comments about FEMA, made at a CNN Republican primary debate in June 2011, received renewed attention Monday. At the time, Romney said he favored states taking on a large role in disaster relief. "Every time you have an occasion to take something from the federal government and send it back to the states, that's the right direction," he said.
Asked Monday whether Romney held the same position he did at the June 2011 debate, Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg explained the candidate believes "states should be in charge of emergency management in responding to storms and other natural disasters in their jurisdictions."
"As the first responders, states are in the best position to aid affected individuals and communities, and to direct resources and assistance to where they are needed most," Henneberg said. "This includes help from the federal government and FEMA."
While Romney canceled his campaign plans in Virginia on Sunday, in addition to an event in Wisconsin Monday night, he still held a rally in Iowa Monday. The campaign said the event was attended by 2,250 people, according to a count of those who went through security.
"I was speaking today with the National Weather Service and the folks at FEMA as they're preparing for the landfall of a very dangerous hurricane. It's going to affect a lot of families, it already has," Romney said at the event.
He continued: "And the damage will probably be significant and of course a lot of people will be out of power for a long time and so hopefully your thoughts and prayers will join with mine and people across the country as you think about those folks that are in harm's way."
The former Massachusetts governor encouraged supporters to donate to the American Red Cross. "We love our fellow Americans, wish them well!"
President Barack Obama, who also canceled campaign events, spoke to reporters in the White House Briefing Room earlier Monday, saying "millions of people" will feel the storm's impact. He held a briefing Sunday at FEMA's headquarters in Washington, D.C. and met with officials on Monday in the White House Situation Room.
- CNN's Rachel Streitfeld, Kevin Liptak and Ashley Killough contributed to this report.
How did someone like Romney ever get into the position he is in to be considered for a high position government job. Some one that thinks this country is to unsure to keep his QUESTIONABLEY aquired fortune that he has to hide in foreign Countries to avoid the taxes that he wants to take charge of in a high office.This TURKEY is a disgrace to the human race. He will find out how much he is disliked when the voting is counted. This country doesn't need more incompetent leaders that put themselves fortunes ahead of the population of this country.
Anyone who has ever experienced a natural disaster (flood, hurricane, tornado, earthquake) knows full well that no state could possibly offer the assistance on the level of the Federal government. Any individual seeking public office who thinks and speaks otherwise, is kidding both themselves and the voting public. And what an interesting 'October surprise' provided by the good lord above to remind America to re-elect President Obama.
If he thinks states do better to do emergency management, why did he even waste time talking to FEMA? Is he talking to FEMA for any potential election gain?
Why is Romney bothering FEMA officials? Looking for something to complain about. Romney is trouble. Nothing but more problems.
Wonderful. The guy who wanted to cut FEMA is now using them as a campaign prop in the middle of a disaster.
How exactly is this news? Does anybody care right now?
He said more than that, he said that responsibility should be given to the private sector. I'm not joking, he really said that.
Election day can't come fast enough. Cant wait to put say-anything do-anything Mitt Romney in the back of yesterday's news.
Romney advocated getting rid of FEMA. What, is he apologizing to them now? The Tea Party has blocked disaster aid. This is a good reminder of what Romney stands for ... why was he talking to FEMA? Romney you are not now or ever going to be President. Stop using tragedies to further your career you jerk!
FEMA wasted 20 minutes letting Romney punch his campaign ticket?
Maybe he told them how he would eliminate their jobs when he gets elected.
This guy can't wait to be president! Just wasting FEMA' s time!
Why is a non elected official on a 20 min phone call with FEMA? Romney needs to step aside and let the people currently in charge do their job. There is nothing he can offer a candidate to the emergency efforts. What a joke,
What a crock. Romney has no business talking to FEMA. He is not the President and won't ever be. Most voters will see through this farce!
Romney is such a fake!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Talk about flowery words......
Romney admittedly wants to get rid of our Federal Emergency Management (FEMA), which is a vital resource during these national disasters.
God bless Americans affected by the storm and may our country pull together to help those in need.
O brother, here we go again....Romney butting in where it is inappropriate so he can convince idiots he his a leader
How about all the money that Romney got from donations for his election including those with millionares and billionares that donated to PAC shall be given away to those who suffer from this storm.....
Why is Romney talking to FEMA officials? More importantly, why are FEMA officials talking to Romney?? He has no authority over them and they do not answer to him, particularly during a time of crisis. What's next? Will the folks at NORAD be chatting about nuclear first-strike preparedness with Ryan?
What, did he meet to remind them he still planned to remove their line-item from his budget, but would pretend to support them now because it's good for his political image?
I wonder if Mitt told them he intends to privatize them.
What a complete fool romney is. getting on the phone with Fema. why? all he is is a candidate for president. he is NOT the president and hopefully NEVER will be. Why shoudl he get any updates? He is not important; he is a moron.
Mitt's an insincere opportunist.
What a phoney he is. He wants to do away with FEMA, let the states respond to their disasters, and better yet, let's privatize it all. So 10 states so far have been hit hard with the Sandy hurricane. According to what Romney really wants to do, 10 states would be financially responsible for billions of dollars worth of devastation. Really? What kind of a country would this be? If there's a big earthquake in California, for example, just let California pay for it. The GOP is sooo far out of touch with reality. God help us.
What a jerk, speaking to an agency he plainly declared he would abolish. No rudder, Mitt speaks whatever he thinks advances his quest that moment.
Why is romney talking to fema